25 September 2014, News Wires – US air strikes against Islamic State on Wednesday targeted oil refineries in Syria thought to be controlled by the insurgency group.
A mix of fighter and remotely-operated aircraft from the US, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates pounded a dozen oil refineries in remote areas in eastern Syria, the US Central Command said.
In total thirteen strikes were carried out on Wednesday on the modular facilities thought to be controlled by the terrorist group that has swept across large swathes of Iraq and Syria in recent months.
Most of the strikes were carried out in Al Mayadin, Al Hasakah and Abu Kamal, with one Islamic State vehicle also hit near Dayr az Zawr.
“We are still assessing the outcome of the attack on the refineries, but have initial indications that the strikes were successful,” the US Central Command said in a statement.
“These small-scale refineries provided fuel to run (Islamic State) operations, money to finance their continued attacks throughout Iraq and Syria, and an economic asset to support their future operations.
“Producing between 300 and 500 barrels of refined petroleum per day, (Islamic State) is estimated to generate as much as $2 million per day from these refineries.
“The destruction and degradation of these targets further limits (its) ability to lead, control, project power and conduct operations.”
US Rear Admiral John Kirby told the BBC later on Thursday: “(The targeted refineries) certainly are significant to (Islamic State) helping to fund itself through black market oil revenues.
“They have others, but these 12 are the 12 we decided to strike yesterday…
“We are still doing battle damage assessment to see how well the strikes went, but all the aircraft performed as expected and landed safely when it was over.”
Some reports indicate that 14 Islamic State fighters and five civilians were killed in the strikes.
Kirby continued: “We don’t know how many militants might have been killed – (but) I want to stress that the purpose of the strikes was not to kill militants necessarily so much as it was to destroy their ability to use these refineries and the capabilities that go with it to make money from them.
“We don’t have any indications from these strikes of any civilian casualties.”
The US has conducted almost 200 air strikes against Islamic State in Iraq, before expanding its operation to Syria earlier this week.
The Islamic State is largely in control of Syria’s oil and gas fields in the east of the country, giving it access to crude production and refined products, which the group has been smuggling to help finance its operations.
Smuggling routes include neighbouring Turkey but militants are known to have been selling refined products to the Syrian government, which is short of fuel after the loss of its major oilfields.
The Islamic State seized control of the al-Omar field, Syria’s largest, from rival Islamist fighters in July in a major offensive across the eastern Deir al-Zor province.